The spacesuit designed to be worn aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule turns up the coolness dial for spaceflight, as befits a company that’s a corporate cousin of the Tesla electric-car venture.
“Was incredibly hard to balance esthetics and function,” Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of both companies, said today in a first-look Instagram post. “Easy to do either separately.”
Musk said the suit has already gone through rounds of pressure tests in a vacuum chamber. “Worth noting that this actually works (not a mockup),” he wrote.
The suit would be worn by the astronauts who ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to the International Space Station and back. They’re analogous to the “pumpkin suits” that NASA used for space shuttle trips, or the Russian Sokol spacesuits that cosmonauts and other spacefliers (including NASA astronauts) wear during trips on Soyuz spacecraft.
They’re not meant for spacewalks, and thus can be trimmer than the EVA spacesuits that most folks associate with in-space operations.
If all goes according to the current schedule, SpaceX could start using the suits when the Dragon carries its first crew next year.
Musk’s reveal of the black-and-white design comes seven months after Boeing unveiled its blue-and-gray spacesuits at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Boeing is also due to start ferrying astronauts to the space station aboard its Starliner space taxi next year as part of NASA’s multibillion-dollar commercial crew program.
SpaceX’s suit looks a little heftier than Boeing’s 20-pound outfit, which incorporates a lightweight, hood-style helmet and visor. But the technical details will have to wait for a future reveal.
The spacesuit won’t be the only element in the Crew Dragon that’s built with an eye to aesthetics: The spaceship’s touchscreens and form-fitting bucket seats also take a page from the Tesla design manual.